Harold Lovell, a man from Cook County, Illinois, believed to be a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy has been found alive in Florida.
Harold Lovell vanished from his family’s home in Cook County, Illinois, on May 1977, and was never heard from again.
At that time, for his family, all signs pointed to John Wayne Gacy, the prolific killer who murdered 33 young men in the 1970s.
Harold Lovell was reconnected with his family earlier this week after authorities in Illinois called him.
The man left his family in 1977 ago due to a fight with one of his parents and didn’t know his siblings were looking for him.
Harold Lovell was found living in Florida and met his brother and sister in Alabama yesterday.
Harold Lovell’s brother Tim Lovell and sister Theresa Hasselberg researched John Wayne Gacy’s every move before his arrest, and even constructed a timeline on when he and their brother may have met.
Authorities re-opened John Wayne Gacy case a few weeks ago, in hopes of identifying eight of his victims.
Thirty years ago, the skeletal remains of eight young men were found under John Wayne Gacy’s home and their identities were never confirmed.
Few weeks ago, detectives secretly exhumed the bones in hopes of answering a final question: Who were they?
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office urged relatives of anyone who vanished between 1970 and John Wayne Gacy’s 1978 arrest – and still unaccounted for – to undergo tests to compare their DNA with that of the skeletal remains.
One of them was Harold Lovell’s family, who had ended their search after seeing a composite sketch of a John Wayne Gacy victim who resembled him.
Harold Lovell’s family members applied for the DNA testing to confirm what they feared all along, but were shocked by what happened next.
A search of police records found that Harold Lovell, 53, was alive, and living in Florida.
Authorities reached Harold Lovell, who goes by his middle name, and bought him a bus ticket, and the family was reunited Tuesday after 34 years.
Harold Lovell said that he left home on that day in 1977 because he “never felt wanted” by his mother and stepfather.
According to Chicago Tribune, Harold Lovell had settled in the Sunshine State 30 years ago, doing various odd jobs.
The man had several arrests in Florida on charges ranging from marijuana possession to domestic violence.
Harold Lovell said: “I’ve gone from having nothing to having all this. I’m still pinching myself.”
At one point, Harold Lovell returned to the Chicago area in search of his mother, but she had died in 2001, believing that her son was the victim of the cruel killer, John Wayne Gacy.
What makes the story even more bizarre is that Harold Lovell may have actually crossed paths with John Wayne Gacy at some point.
According to Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, a piece of jewelry found in John Wayne Gacy’s home at the time of his 1978 arrest was specifically identified by Harold Lovell’s mother as belonging to him.
Harold Lovell fit the profile of John Wayne Gacy’s victims – white, same age group and in the same vicinity.
Authorities are scheduled to talk with Harold Lovell next week.
Sheriff Thomas Dart said that the new probe sheds light on the shoddy record-keeping of missing person cases in the 70s and 80s.
Back then, records were kept on a town-by-town basis, and in an age before computers, many were either lost or destroyed.
In John Wayne Gacy’s case, one of the bodies found in his home was later identified as a young man whose case had been closed, Sheriff Thomas Dart said.
John Wayne Gacy, who is remembered as one of history’s most bizarre killers largely because of his work as an amateur clown, was convicted of murdering 33 young men, sometimes luring them to his Chicago-area home for sex by impersonating a police officer or promising them construction work.
The serial killer stabbed one and strangled the others between 1972 and 1978. Most of his victims were buried in a crawl space under his home. Four were dumped in a river.
John Wayne Gacy was executed in 1994. His last words were “Kiss my ass”.